23 September 2005
The clock on my computer says it’s 8:06 Central time, which means I’ve been up for, oh, roughly 25 hours. As can be expected, I’m dead on my feet. It’s two PM here, and I’ve only just arrived at my hostel. The flight…well, I’ve often said I like flying, but this flight was the flight from hell. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t find a Dean Koontz in the airport and had to settle for “Angels & Demons” (so far—mildly interesting) but then the flight was delayed for two and a half hours AFTER WE HAD GOT ON THE PLANE. This was just long enough for them to serve drinks and for me to watch the entire movie “Crash.” (quick review: “Crash” was brilliant. See it if you like thinking about racial issues and enjoy a thinking movie with intelligent dialogue and real people. “Crash” has the potential for a happy ending, and in some ways it does, but it definitely leaves you interpreting) After we got off the ground there was just enough turbulence to keep me awake (and prayin’!) “beef” that was more stringy fat over rice, and a real hottie to my left who hogged the armrest. Which is probably why my right arm is numb, from having them crossed for ten hours. Getting into Heathrow was fine, I’m getting old hat at this, and happy to see that, after six years, the renovation to the international terminal may just be ready in time for my graduation. At the airport I met a pair of nice British women who were there to welcome students and show them how to get into the city and who gave me a brilliant pamphlet on living here. On the tube I met a couple Canadian women who hadn’t seen each other in seven years and were joyfully reunioning…how do I know this, you ask? Trust me, by the time we got into London proper EVERYBODY on the Tube knew. A nice man helped me muscle my embarrassingly huge pile of luggage out of Kensington South station after I had forgotten that people walk on the left here and started up the right of the stairs, which was nice of him. But now I’m tired, I’m dirty, and England decides to welcome me in true British style and start raining. I’m standing on the kerb (it’s British!) trying to hail a cab, nobody’s stopping, I can’t get to my umbrella, and how would I hold it anyway? I’m more resigned than anything, but I just want to get to my hostel and remove my shoes. Finally I get a cab, get over to the Rosedene, which is in Victoria, and…all of a sudden, everything’s…OK. A very nice young man helped me with my hernia-inducing luggage, checked me in and then…oh my God, was I a smart cookie to book a room by myself. This room…well, it’s a hostel, and this is the presidential suite. Give you an idea, I walk in the door, I see the TV, I go “ahhh,” I see the sink and mirror in the corner so I don’t have to brush in the company of strangers and I go, “ahhhh!” I see the electric teakettle and I give a little moan of pure delight. I’m so thirsty! (after the initial round of drinks it was a very dry flight, if you get my drift…) so now I’m sitting here, after having removed my shoes (along with a few other articles of clothing) writing up an entry before I take a nap, enjoying some hot tea, and some Australian soap opera. You know, it’s funny. I’ve been freaking out, stressing out about SCHOOL. GETTING THERE. LUGGAGE. VISA. FINANCIAL AID. TEA. And I’ve, silly me, I’ve completely forgotten that all this time I was heading toward my favourite city in the world! London! It’s good to be back!
24 September 2005
Today was dedicated entirely to getting to my dorm, going back to Victoria for my suitcase and getting some bedding. Now, if that sounds like it shouldn’t take eight hours, you’re right. But once you take the wrong bus…twice…it begins to add up. I am utterly exhausted and enjoying a quiet evening at home. I have to admit that today was a little discouraging. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of the buses—they’re great fillers for the Underground, especially here in Lewisham—but you need to know where you’re going to ring the driver so he’ll let you off, and that’s hard when everything looks the same to American eyes and you’re moving so fast that you’re in danger of being thrown out of your seat. You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding.
But, I am nothing if not resourceful. I had a huge bowl of oatmeal this morning, which was a good thing, because I didn’t eat dinner. Roseby’s is a little store nearby (“nearby” meaning a 10 minute bus ride away) where I managed to find some sheets and a duvet, and a pillow out of it’s packaging for 2 pounds. I ran through Iceland’s (grocery store) and got the basics—the problem is that I’m unfamiliar with the brands here, so I need time to look at everything—arriving back in time to go to a welcome party downstairs. I met a few nice people, including one who has the same major as me, but they all bunked off to go out and I was like, “yeah, gonna go upstairs and break out the sheets. ‘Night.” So now I have food, but no kitchen things, and my stomach is like, “See that right arm? EAT IT!” and I’m thinking I’m going to have to eat the bread I have with nothing on it but cheese. (which I was smart enough to buy pre-sliced) When all of a sudden I remember my Leatherman. Like I said, nothing if not resourceful. So I had bread with cheese, yes, but also butter and sliced up tomato and a couple eggs I nicked from the hostel this morning. The Leatherman, I would like to report, was more than sharp enough to slice tomatoes, should the need ever arise. And I had some tea, even though one of the guys I talked to downstairs says no one drinks tea in Britain anymore, they all drink Evian. I bet he’d be horrified if he found out I used tap water for tea. ☺ So I’m much better now, which is why I decided to wait until now to write today’s update, because today was rough. Knew it would be, but I still tried my patience to the limit. Doing much better now though. At least I have my sense of humor.
Oh, and for all you who laughed at me earlier—turns out it’s a good thing I saw “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” the last time we were here because it CLOSED, so there.
Oh, geez and I totally didn’t even describe my room. Oh well. Tomorrow.
1: Number of duvets Nicki has
0: Number of duvet covers Nicki has
484: the bus route one takes to get to Lewisham Center
30: Minutes spent riding the wrong way on the 484
75: number in pounds of Nicki’s big suitcase
34: number of pounds Nicki lost lugging her suitcase around
25 September 2005
I know you’re wondering why I haven’t updated in so long, and the short answer is that I don’t have internet access in my room. So I am keeping a log day by day and will upload it to my blog as soon as possible.
Today was also tiring, but not as much as yesterday. I went back to Lewisham and found a Woolworth’s and a £-Savr! store which is kind of like a Family Dollar. So now I have kitchen utensils, including the world’s smallest teaspoon. Somehow I don’t think that is going to reach down to the bottom of my bucket-sized coffee mug. I’ll probably have to keep on using my knitting needle. But I did make the round trip as a round trip and not a sightseeing tour, so I’m feeling better. Tired, but tired because I’m tired and not because I was walking all over London.
So, the accommodations. Welcome to my room, which is on the third floor, I think. You get in the elevator (yes!) and push the number two button and when you get out, snake out around to your right. When you open the door you see a thin little mattress on top of a wooden box to the right of the window, which overlooks a private garden. Under the window is a narrow shelf/desk, which continues around into a larger desk. Above that are two shelves, beneath it are three drawers. Then there’s a closet, and that’s pretty much it for storage space, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t bring every last article of clothing I owned. The best part of the whole room though is the ensuite bathroom, which is literally a water closet. There’s a tiny little sink, a toilet and a shower, but the whole thing is tucked into a fiberglass closet, like on an RV. So if you go to the bathroom right after you shower, you have to remember not to wear your socks or they’ll get wet, and mind that shower curtain stays closed or your TP will get soggy. ☺ A very nice arrangement, if I may say so myself. I haven’t really explored the rest of campus yet, since it is 15 minutes away, but the area I’m staying in is more residential and therefore, quieter and more condusive to writing. Not that I’ve been very creative yet, but soon, I’m sure.
The good news is the spending frenzy that was arriving here and getting settled in is over, and I’m actually “on budget” for this week, which means that I might even be able to live more cheaply than I thought I would. Next week I’m going to get myself a little radio and a lamp so I can listen to the BBC and I don’t have to get out from under my duvet to turn the light off. (I also got a duvet cover today, trying not to think of “Fight Club” too much) I also met another American briefly while I was washing up my new dishes (one spoon, one fork, one plate, one cup, etc) and she sounds just a homesick as I am, which makes me feel better. She bought a cell phone with a plan to America and told me all about it, so I think tomorrow, or perhaps next week, I too will once again succumb to the lure of the cell and get one too. Tomorrow is going to be another big day, it’s the day I get to try and open a British checking account. By the time you’re reading this, “tomorrow” will probably be “today,” and I’ll be uploading this letter, so I’ll let you all know how it goes.
26 September 2005
If there’s one thing the British have down to a science, it’s red tape. I went to the Fees and Awards office in the main building of the college today to get my loan checks, only to find out they were closed. Closed? During the busiest week of the school year? I retreated to figure out a new plan of attack and buy coffee. If I couldn’t get my loans, I couldn’t pay my tuition and they wouldn’t let me enroll and I wouldn’t be able to use the library and I am ALMOST DONE WITH “Angels and Demons.” (review soon!) So you can see this is very serious. Looking for help I wander into the Great Hall and discover that the fees and award office has temporarily set up shop in there. I managed to get my checks, and sign one over to the college to pay my tuition. Thinking that was suspiciously easy, I move on to getting a checking account, which proves much more difficult. They need about five hundred different documents (okay, three) so I trekked over to the housing authority to get a letter stating I live at Raymont Hall. The housing people sent me to the International Office, where I finally got to talk with Brent Hicks, the gentleman I’ve been emailing for a year and a half now, and imagine my surprise when I find out he’s actually a resident adviser in my hall. Long story short I get my letter, get my checking account--but of course, I won’t be able to get any checks (or for that matter, put any money in it) until a week from now when the paperwork is done. Sigh. At least I got everything checked off my list for today, so I spent the afternoon in my room, resting my feet and legs. I also found a different way to campus today…not a shorter way, just different. I’m not saying the hill I went down was steep, but I did pass a couple mountain goats…
This mammoth post above is a record of the days past. Today, surprisingly, went fairly smoothly. I am officially enrolled in Goldsmiths College, althought I don't sign up for classes on Thursday. And, hallelujah, I have a library card so now I can check out some books. I'm wearing my flip flops today since every pair of shoes I own (all of which are new) have given me blisters, and on different parts of my feet. I'm letting them rest for awhile. I forgot how much walking London means, but, hopefully, my legs and feet will stop hurting soon. :) I'm off now to explore the "fiction" section of the library. Much love to you all.